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Rich Moore's 'Wreck-It Ralph' is an homage to blocky video games

November 05, 2012|By Katherine Tulich
  • "Wreck-It Ralph" Director Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
"Wreck-It Ralph" Director Rich Moore and… (Courtesy of Disney )

When animation director Rich Moore was growing up in Oxnard, he spent so much time in video arcades that his parents worried that their young son was wasting his time. “They would always tell me that I should be concentrating on the real world,” says Moore, who grew up to put all that invaluable research into his first big-screen movie, Disney's “Wreck-It Ralph.”

The film is a loving homage to the era of blocky video games of the '80s and '90s. In the vein of “Toy Story,” it gives these childhood favorites a life and story of their own.

“The idea had been kicking around at Disney for quite some time, but they could not really come up with the right storyline,” says Moore, who is based in Burbank.

Moore thought about the characters inside a video game. “The little characters are programmed. They don't have free will. They do the same job every day, and they're happy to do it,” says Moore. “Where would the emotion be in that? I realized if we had a character who didn't like his job, he's having an existential crisis. He's wondering, ‘Is this it?' We always remember in Donkey Kong with the Marios climbing up, and it's King Kong up there throwing stuff down and well, what if we had a game where it was like that and the story was about this guy. Let's see their secret life, when they are off the clock and they are free to leave their games.”

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The story centers on Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), who for years has been overshadowed by the good-guy star of the game, Fix-It Felix Jr., who always comes to save the day. Ralph sets out on his own journey across the different worlds and generations of arcade video games to prove that he can also be the hero of the day.

“These games are very dear to so many people,” says Moore. “I grew up with them, but it's not just my generation that connects to this. I have had teenagers saying thanks for making a movie for us, and then I also have people in their 50s saying they are happy I have made a movie for the arcade people.”

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